Friday, August 2, 2013


One of the difficulties in following contemporary Russian writers is that there is a notable lag in translation of novels.  Viktor Pelevin's 2011 book, S.N.U.F.F. remains inaccessible to most non-Russian speakers, and he has since come out with Batman Apollo which continues his fascination with vampires.  One has to be content with fragments for the time being.

Pelevin is perhaps the best known contemporary Russian writer, whose books are now finding their way into film, such as Generation "П" in 2011.  Given its success, you figure more film versions are in the planning.  

Although Pelevin's books have been ostensibly about the void left from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the attempt to fill it with Ameircan-style consumerism, there is a deeper reading in each one, as this is clearly someone who understands the psychological underpinnings of the chaotic world many Russians find themselves living in.  Given his flair for a good action yarn, his books are very accessible to non-Russian readers, presuming you can find them in your native language.

In many ways, Pelevin is the Kurt Vonnegut of contemporary Russian literature.  His notion of science fiction is anything but standard.  His first book, Omon Ra (1992) is a wonderful satirical look at a decaying Soviet space program, hanging on by the thinnest of threads.

"П" was released as Babylon in the UK, and a number of other small books have been translated by Andrew Bromfield.  Unfortunately, Pelevin's 2006 novel, Empire V, has yet to be translated into English.  One can only assume Bromfield is working on it.  He certainly made Babylon accessible to the English reader in a very good translation.

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